WASHINGTON — The Justice Department today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the city of Chesapeake, Va. alleging that the city utilized hiring practices for its entry-level police officer position that had an unlawful disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic applicants in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“Police officer applicants must have the necessary qualifications to perform the important duties of that job,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Unfortunately, the city of Chesapeake has insisted on qualifications that are not relevant to being a good police officer, and that result in unlawful discrimination in the hiring of police officers.”
The Justice Department’s complaint, filed in federal district court in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that the city of Chesapeake violated Title VII by using a mathematics test as a pass/fail screening device in its selection process for entry-level police officers. According to the complaint, the city’s use of the mathematics test as a pass/fail screening device resulted in disparate impact against African-American and Hispanic job applicants and was not job-related in that it did not predict whether an applicant was able to successfully perform the job of entry-level police officer. The Justice Department is not challenging any other parts of the police department’s police officer selection process.
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Title VII’s prohibitions extend to neutral hiring or employment practices that, in practice, result in disparate or unequal impact on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin and are not “job-related” as defined by the law.
The continued enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/.